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NETGEAR RANGEMAX WNDR3700 - Fast, easy-to-use and rock solid
on September 24, 2009
This router is fast, easy to set-up and smartly engineered. Although this is a high-end feature-rich consumer router, out of the box, I had this running in just a few minutes. Using the simple color-coded 1-2-3 step setup process, an expert, or a novice, can have this router up and running very quickly.
Modifying the two dual band networks for different names and passwords is straight forward, and I preferred to do it manually. After logging into the firmware, the screens are divided into three panels. The left panel is the list of the feature sets, such as "wireless settings," or "guest network" settings; the middle panel has the pick list of options for the feature set; and the right panel on the screen explains, in the easiest of terms, what the features and options mean. There is little need to refer to the product manual or other help. Everything is in one place, and in the right place.
I attained maximum speeds with each of the dual bands when my laptops were in close proximity to the router. My throughput on the 5 Ghertz band using the "n" protocol was a blazing 300 Mbps. With my previous router, I was never able to achieve anything faster than 130 Mbps. As is the case with the 5 Ghertz channel, this speed drops off quickly as I moved my laptop away from the router. By 30 feet, I was down to 100 Mbps a second, but still relatively fast when compared to the legacy "g" speeds. On the 2.4 Ghertz band, using the "g" protocol, I saw very little degradation within 50 feet of the router.
I streamed a Netflix movie to an HD television flawlessly through a Toshiba laptop and an HDMI cable. There was no stutter in the picture, and the picture quality was excellent. Unlike past video streaming, I did not experience a dropped picture while waiting for the video buffer to reload.
I connected a USB disk drive to the router and shared it among three laptops without incident. I established read and read/write passwords for various file folders on the disk drive. I also made the drive available for access through the Internet, and again this process was straightforward in creating. I plan on backing up the three laptops to the USB drive on the router, as well as sharing photos and other files with family and friends by having them access the password protected IP address of my new network-based disk drive.
In total, you can establish four networks on this router. One for each of the dual bands, and two more as guest networks for each of the dual bands as well. The guest networks are nice as they can completely isolate guests from accessing sensitive information on other PCs or devices on the network. (Or you can open up the guest networks to everything on the network.)
Some other features worth noting are the automatic checking for firmware updates every time you log into the router; the "traffic meter" that shows daily, weekly and monthly internet usage that can be configured to throttle it; and the ability to backup personalized firmware settings in case of an emergency restore. With regard to the latter, it would be nice to also get a saved PDF file of what the settings are for each of the backed-up firmware configurations.
The Netgear WNDR3700 replaced two Linksys routers that I had connected together to essentially create a "dual band" environment. One was an older "g" unit, while the other was a newer "n" router. Together they got the job done in a mixed environment of video and Internet surfing. But the WNDR3700 takes routing to a newer level, with faster processors driving the dual bands to faster speeds and better range; and a big feature set that is easy to use, understand and configure.
SIX-MONTH UPDATE - This router has been powered up constantly for six months now, and it continues to run flawlessly. During this time, two firmware updates have been automatically flagged and applied without incident.
I use many of the key features of this router across the three laptops that are connected wirelessly to the dual bands. Video streaming from Netflix and other Internet sites continues to work smoothly.
Being able to connect a USB disk drive to the router has become a heavily-used feature. The router-based disk drive is the central location for backing up the data from the three laptops. I can backup these laptops locally, or from anywhere using the Internet. When traveling with a camera and a laptop, I am able to easily backup digital pictures to the router's USB disk drive. It is another way to save and protect files when away.
This router is my third, and best to date.